With Aaron Cresswell’s injury forcing West Ham boss Slaven Bilic to be too creative for comfort during his side’s 4-2 aggregate victory over Domzale in Europa League qualifying, it was always a matter of time before a new left-back would be winging his way to east London.
Bilic fielded right-back Sam Byram on the left and winger Michail Antonio on the right in both matches against the Slovenians, going down 2-1 away before sweeping to 3-0 victory in West Ham’s first fixture at London Stadium, formerly the Olympic Stadium.
Cresswell will be out until November at the earliest, making a short-term replacement who won’t break the bank necessary, with Bilic clearly a fan of the 26-year-old having stared him in all bar one Premier League match last term.
Step forward Arthur Masuaku, a 22-year-old former France Under-18 international who played alongside Paul Pogba in the Les Bleus youth set-up.
Masuaku has signed from Olympiakos, where he bagged two Greek Superleague titles and a cup winners’ medal during two terms in Piraeus, starting 11 Champions League games to boot.
Half of Italy was said to be interested in the Lille-born flyer 12 months ago, with Juventus, Inter and Roma all thought keen and Genoa seeing a €4m bid rebuffed.
West Ham have picked Masuaku up for an undisclosed fee thought to be around £6m, which seems reasonable for a young player of this profile, with early reports that Olympiakos were looking for only £1m proving as wrong as they sounded.
Masuaku seems a similar type to Southampton right-back Cedric, bought as a 23-year-old for similar money last summer and now European champion after turning out four times for Portugal at Euro 2016, starting in the 1-0 final victory over hosts France.
If playing for West Ham has a similar impact on Masuaku’s international future, with Les Bleus’ evergreen left-back Patrice Evra surely on his last legs, then Cresswell may have a fight on his hands upon returning from the treatment room.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.